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Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  July 6, 2011 11:57 AM

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...3,000 hits. That's what Yankees icon Derek Jeter is doing. Jeter is within four base knocks of the hallowed hits mark, but it hasn't been pretty watching him close in on history.

At 37, there is a clear and noticeable decline in the shortstop's game. A career .312 hitter, he is batting .257 and was put on the disabled list for the first time since 2003. Jeter's eroding skills are all the more reason that you should appreciate his greatness (yes, Red Sox fans the Yankee captain deserves a career tip of the cap).

He might not be aging gracefully, but Jeter is aging naturally. Perhaps, we've forgotten because our sporting perception has been dulled by the Steroid Era and HGH Generation, but this is what is supposed to happen to great athletes.They get old and their skill fades away. It was outre for Barry Bonds to bat .370 with 46 home runs at age 37. I have much more respect for Jeter's .257.

Jeter's organic decline makes you believe that he was doing it naturally all along. That may be a greater achievement than 3,000 hits in an era of baseball full of artificially-enhanced players and numbers.

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news


...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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